HYPOTHESIS: The forces that cause rupture of the incudomalleolar joint during the fixation of stapedial prostheses can be determined by means of load-deflection measurements at the long process of the incus. As in other tissues, 3 ranges of forces can be defined: micro rupture, rupture, and short-term maximum.
BACKGROUND: A crucial step in stapes surgery is the attachment of the stapedial prosthesis to the long process of the incus. It is unknown which forces occur during the crimping process that increase the risk of damage to the incudomalleolar joint or incus luxation. The goal of this study was to assess the admissible range of forces at the long process of the incus that would be tolerable before damaging the structures and to compare them with the forces occurring during surgery.
METHODS: Load-deflection curves in the lateral-medial and anterior-posterior direction were measured in 9 freshly frozen or fresh temporal bones. The force was measured with a load cell, and displacement was taken from the encoder information of the electrically driven translation stage on which the load cell was mounted. The long process of the incus was coupled to the load cell via a customized needle. We also monitored with video recordings for visual confirmation of findings.
RESULTS: The rupture force at which the middle ear was found to be severely injured was 894 (724-1018) mN in the anterior-posterior direction and 695 (574-771) mN in the lateral-medial direction. Micro-ruptures occurred at forces around 568 (469-686) mN in the anterior-posterior direction and in the lateral-medial direction at 406 (254-514) mN. Short-term maximum forces of 1,321 (1,051-1,533) mN were measured in the anterior-posterior direction and 939 (726-1,132) mN in the lateral-medial direction.
CONCLUSION: Rupture forces of the incudomalleolar joint could be defined with high accuracy. These results were used to calculate risks of incus luxation or subluxation during stapes surgery. Compared with the use of clip and SMA prostheses, the risk of damage from a crimping procedure is significantly higher.